Please Slow Down - By Sarah Mercado
I’m the type of person that easily gets consumed, sometimes a little too much, by the hustle and bustle of life. I am a 100% Type A, color-coded calendar, to-do list kind of mama. I juggle a full-time job, a business, and keeping a neurodiverse household together. My brain is so full that if something isn’t written down, it’s not going to happen. It will completely fall off my radar, and being Type A, that’s just not okay. I know my fellow Type-A-ers can relate.
This morning, something was different. My son had already woken up and was downstairs with my husband. I went into my daughter’s room to wake her up and she just looked so peaceful, lying there in bed, probably dreaming about princesses and unicorns (she’s 4). I stared at her for a few moments, trying to soak in every detail. I began to lightly rub her head, kiss her cheek, and breathe her in. I wanted to absorb her like a sponge. (That sounds weird, but mamas, you know what I mean.) If I could have made time stand still so I could live in that present moment longer, I would have. But alas, the clock kept ticking. I needed to wake her up to get out the door for school and stay on schedule for the day.
When we got downstairs, her 5-year-old neurodivergent brother was having a difficult time. Last night, I asked him if he wanted ice cream before shower. He declined, so I made sure he understood that after showering, we were going to floss, brush, and go to bed; ice cream would no longer be available. (It was already late and a school night.) After a shower, you can probably guess that he asked for ice cream. Because we had already discussed that that was no longer an option, chaos ensued. We eventually made it into bed, and I reassured him that he could have ice cream tomorrow. So, first thing this morning, he goes downstairs and what does he want? You got it! Ice cream. My husband had already explained that it was time for breakfast, not ice cream, so when I got there, I held firm with the same message. It was time for breakfast.
Despite the dysregulation and screaming this morning, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. An undeniable feeling of patience and understanding, completely free of stress and worry about what was next on the calendar for the day. I was able to be present for my son while he processed some very big emotions. I was able to give my daughter the physical and emotional comfort she needed when she found out I wasn’t going with them for school drop-off. In the 30-45 minutes I had with my children before school this morning, I was present. I was available. I was free.
When I started writing this post, I titled it “Please Slow Down”, thinking it was going to be about wishing my kids wouldn’t grow up so fast. But, as I sit here writing this and viscerally remembering how I felt an hour ago before they walked out the door, I’m realizing that this isn’t about wishing the kids would slow down, but rather about wishing that I would slow down.
Kids don’t care what’s on the calendar, or what unfinished tasks are remaining on the to-do list. They don’t care what time it is, or about the load of clothes in the dryer that need to get put away. Children have this beautiful way of living so authentically in the present moment. They innately know how to slow down and enjoy the beauty around them. Have you ever wondered when we lose that? When does the calendar become more important than the present moment? When does the stress of the to-do list overcome the peace of each breath? For me, it happened a long long time ago. Way before marriage and kids. Probably over a decade ago. What a thief time can be. I sit here wishing I could go back, wishing I had never lost that ability to live so freely in each moment. It makes me sad to think that there were so many beautiful moments that I missed because I was consumed by life, instead of living it.
While I can’t change the past, I can shift my perspective for the future. I don’t want my children to slow down like I had initially thought. They already know how to do that. I’m learning from them just as much as they’re learning from me.
Mama, if you’re like me, easily consumed by life and everything that’s going on, I invite you to slow down with me. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be so worth it. The feeling of stress that’s creeping up in my stomach right now, urging me to finish writing so I can move on to the next thing, is making me uncomfortable. But I feel it. I acknowledge it. And I’m going to let it just hang out there in my stomach for a little bit. I’m going to breathe through it and choose to rejoice in the here and now. I have to. For myself, but more importantly, for my children. They need me. No, they want me. Not only the to-do list part of me, but the whole entire me. When my daughter pulls me into the playroom to show me something I’ve seen a million times, she’s not trying to distract me from my task list, she’s yearning to connect. When my son is having a meltdown spurred by something that seems so trivial, he’s not trying to be difficult, he’s hurting. Let’s remind ourselves of that the next time we feel pulled away from what we feel like we “should” be doing. Let’s shift our perspective - the pulling away is giving us the opportunity to connect with our loved ones in the moments they want us most. I really avoid using the word “should” as much as possible because I grew up in a very shame-based culture, but in the moments where we’re being shown the same toy we saw yesterday and the day before, THAT is where we should be and what we should be doing.
So, mama, please slow down.
This blog post was written by Sarah Mercado. Find her on Instagram @mixedplateohana.